Every day I am convinced that it is my last day of sanity. ‘Oh sure,’ I think, ‘Today I got up, worked, and did things normal people do but that is absolutely no predictor of how things will be tomorrow. Tomorrow I could wake up and go all Girl, Interrupted.’ Not that I don’t love Winona Ryder’s pixie cut, because I do. I imagine I will have to cut my hair like that tomorrow because today is the last day that my hair is going to curl. Tomorrow it will be flat. Lifeless. Today I talk to the people in my life, but tomorrow I’ll be unable to communicate, unable to face them as I withdraw completely. I imagine people will start whispering about how I used to be a fully functioning lawyer, a contributing member of society who voted and recycled, and, after a dramatic pause they’ll lean into their listener, look side to side for eavesdroppers, and say, “now she just sits there. With terrible hair.”
I feel especially fatalistic about my writing, certain that every sentence I write is the last sentence that I will ever be able to write. I tell myself that I am only ever as good as my last word, unable to build up any emotional equity from anything I have written. Staring at a blank screen, I wonder if I have been doled a certain number of words by the universe and if I have already used them all up. When I hit a block like this, I become convinced that there is something in my midst that is throwing off my ability. Looking around myself yesterday as I deleted another sentence, leaving me again with nothing on the page, the blemish on my karma was obvious. My bag. My pink and white, cotton and leather satchel that I had thought so cute before was wedging itself between me and my writing. My bag was an albatross and had to go. It had to go immediately. Yes, if I had the right bag, with the right spot for my computer and powercord, the right pockets for my phone and my lip balm, then I would be able to write something amazing. Come to think of it, my lip balm wasn’t so hot either. I needed something way jazzier or the right bag would be for naught. Who could write the Great Canadian Novel without glossy lips in just the right shade that gives a little bit of colour while still looking somewhat natural? No one, that’s who.
I immediately headed to the mall to remedy this career-obstruction.
“Can I help you?” asked the sales clerk as I wandered through the bags.
“I’m looking for a bag that inspires” I said, “Something that will crystallize the thoughts in my head into perfect, beautiful words that are as deep as they are melodious.”
“This one?” she asks, holding up a black leather purse.
That purse couldn’t even encourage a grocery list. I’m talking about finishing my book here, my baby!
As is always my custom, I picked up a bag I fancy only to discover it is the most expensive one in the store. Sliding it onto my shoulder, I started telling myself that I didn’t just want the plaid woolen Fossil carrall with the buttery brown leather. I needed it. No other bag would do. This one, while practically a mortgage payment, was an investment in my career, really. What wouldn’t I do to advance my writing goals? It would last me forever. I would never have to buy another bag ever again. When was the last time I even bought myself a bag? And, don’t I deserve it? Didn’t I help a blind man cross the street and get to the bank just the other day? So don’t I deserve this gorgeous, overpriced bag that hardly fits my computer? Don’t I?
I didn’t. My bank account said so. Besides, if it was my last day of normalcy, I figured I didn’t need such a fabulous accessory. Just an averagely inspiration one would do.
This morning I pulled my computer out of mediocre black, grey and yellow bag, and wrote a blog post. I hope I will be at my computer again tomorrow, writing away too. But if I’m not, if I should find myself in a padded room, well, at least I’ll have plump, glossy lips that smell like cherries.